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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Poor Ezra has been having a rough few days. Last Thursday Jay’s mother, sister and twin nephews came up and spent the night. He had a blast. It was basically a surprise sleep-over for him. They were even allowed to watch part of a movie after lights out. It was a glorious suspension of rigid bedtime rules. He was thrilled.

That started the downfall.

Ezra’s father continued it by (over) filling his weekend with, in addition to t-ball, hiking, visiting friends, playground (which included a nasty – literally, he fell into the mud – fall off a merry-go-round). He was playing to his heart’s content. He was happy and active…
He got to bed late 4 out of 6 nights.

This is a recipe for disaster for Ezra. And it is taking its toll.

He is in a really bad mood. Sometimes. Other times he is breathtakingly adorable, oozing a sweetness and loving nature that shows how kind he truly is.

But those deep emotions run the gamut for Ezra and he has quite a temper. Teaching him to control it is going to be a challenge.

The problem for me is that Ezra is struggling with emotions, concepts and communication. And these are a big deal. Not to mention that his efforts to deal with these big things can be comical and interesting in an absolutely adorable way.

But he can be a defiant little shit child when he is struggling with these things and that is not funny at all. It is maddening.

His latest thing is to tell me, “I not talking to you anymore!”

The vehemence with which he tells me this removes any doubt whether (i) he means what he says and (ii)  is he fully aware of how mean it sounds – he kinda means it that way. He also tells me over and over – talking to me by announcing that he is most certainly NOT talking to me.

I am trying to remove the stressors that contribute to his meltdowns – get him to bed earlier, allow him time to rest and heal up from all his bumps and bruises, feed him well so he is not hungry or on a sugar high in addition to all the other challenges and (try) to deal with him calmly and rationally.

Especially when he isn’t.

Therein lies the problem.

It requires me to stop and think like him. To get inside that little head and find a way to talk to him and explain the situation to him. And get him to understand the appropriate and acceptable way of dealing with the situation. In a way he can not only understand, but also in a way he will accept and try to implement.

There is a lot of bargaining. I try and make sure it is not done by compromising my expectations, but instead by showing him how acting appropriately is beneficial to him, both practically and emotionally.
[Do what you NEED to do first, then you can do what you WANT to do.  If you walk to the car and get on your seatbelt first, it will be easier for you to figure out how to turn your Bumblebee transformer back into a car rather than try and do it WHILE you are walking to the car. If you wait until you get to the car to do it, you will walk faster (which will make Mommy happier) and you will have an easier time putting Bumblebee together when you can focus on what you are doing. But, not doing that and getting too frustrated does NOT mean it is ok to lose your temper and throw Bumblebee across the car.]

So I find myself saying, “Calm down and pay attention.”

Over and over and over again for an hour and a half every morning.

But you know the even more frustrating thing about all this?

It means I have to watch myself. I have to “Calm down and pay attention.” Because if I cannot do it, then exactly how am I going to be able to teach a four-year-old little boy with a lot of conflicting emotions how to do it? Yeah, that is the sucky flip-side of parenting – the responsibility part.

The living example part. Even on the small thngs. 

Just another way in which I have to grow up so I can raise good kids. Not my favorite part of parenting, but it is a requirement – at least for me, anyway.

Some of you may be all grown up already. But I don’t think that would be near as much fun. 

A 14 year old girl lay on a bed in a pale yellow room.  Yellow was not her favorite color.  Right now it was blue.  In later years it would be green. You can tell from her wardrobe. 

She was reading Gone with the Wind for the first time.  It was spring and the pale yellow bedroom was in the deep south of Alabama.  Her mind, however, was roughly 200 miles north, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Now, you have to keep in mind that this was 1985 and she was 14.  Whatever racist reputation the book has to the broader world outside the South was totally lost on her – as it mostly is even to this day.  She had read Twain with the same obliviousness: that of a white southern teenager who understood the South from that perspective alone.  She was neither privileged nor disadvantaged, walking that treacherous line between the two. She was also only slightly aware of the events that had played themselves out a mere twenty years before in Selma and Birmingham… and Montgomery.  The only thing she cared about that had to do with Montgomery was that she would get to go ice skating on the next trip they took there – Daddy had promised she could. 

For her Gone with the Wind was all about the story she’d been drawn into. 

The beauty and romanticism of it thrilled her.  The story pulled her through it.

She could feel the breeze and smell the barbeque at Twelve Oaks.

She was wrapped up in characters who fascinated her as much as the language Mitchell had masterfully crafted into beautiful images in her mind. 

There were azaleas and dogwoods in bloom outside her very window.  Her father had taken to digging dogwood sapplings up when he got the chance and bringing them home to plant in the yard for her mother to enjoy the first few splendid weeks of Spring. Daddy’s own unique way of bringing her mother flowers, she supposed.

But, for the girl, the dogwoods she could see with her own eyes paled in comparison with the lovely north Georgia woods Mitchell described so skillfully. 

She learned to flirt from Scarlett.  And, she had to admit, she’d learned a few other things from her as well. 

Melanie taught her about turning the other cheek. Although Melanie generally annoyed her and made her feel guilty for liking Scarlett as much as she did. 

It could be argued that she had, sometimes cautiously and other times recklessly, pulled from the good and the bad of these two fictional characters and implemented their tactics her own life.  Subconsciously – most of the time.

She desperately wished now that there were more of Atticus Finch in her than Scarlett.  But Harper Lee’s hero was an embodiment of virtue that even Gone with the Wind could not handle. And, besides, it would be several years until To Kill A Mockingbird would make it to her bedside table.  When it did, however, it would never really leave again.  She would re-read it periodically for the rest of her life.

This weekend, however – and more than a few years past 1985 – that same girl looked out the picture window in her living room at the dogwoods she could see with her own eyes.

And for the very first time it dawned on her.  She had done it unconsciously, but she had done it . 

Reluctantly, the knowledge of the dark side of her beloved South raised itself in her mind.  She acknowledged the unflattering and embarrassing truth about that South of 150 years ago.  It was not something you could ignore. 

But in true Scarlett fashion, she would not think about that right now; she would think about that another day. 

Right now the azaleas and dogwoods outside her window were too beautiful to ignore. 

Margaret Mitchell had been right about the beauty of the north Georgia woods.

She knew it for a fact.  Because she now lived in them herself.

Do you ever feel like that? 

Like you know that the time of your life you are living right this very minute is precious and will be the time that you will look back on with nostalgia 10 or 15 years from now…. But you still have that overwhelming feeling that you are hanging on by your fingernails?

Every morning I wake up with either Jay and Sawyer or (most days) with Jay, Sawyer and Ezra sleeping soundly next to me.  We have a hard time getting out of bed at our house, so alarms go off starting at 6a.  That would be Jay’s phone first at 6a (not that we get up then… it is just the warning shot across the bow that time is drawing nigh).  My alarm clock goes off at 7a, and 7:30a (yes, I set 2 alarms on that baby) and it snoozes a couple of times in between (I must get up at 7a, I usually make it by 7:15).  BOTH Jay and I have our cells set to go off at 8a.  My 8a alarm on my phone is aptly titled “Walk out the door” because I need, every single bleeping day, to drop whatever I am doing and head to my car at 8a sharp.  This rarely happens. I usually make it by 8:10, which puts me rushed, but still most likely at my desk at 9a (unless Atlanta traffic intervenes, which it sometimes does). 

But in that time between 6a and 7:15 or so I lay there and bask in the quiet breathing of all my guys.  Ezra is not allowed to sleep with us, however, he is allowed snuggle time sometime after 5:30a.  Jay would rather this not happen, but I cannot help it. 

Do you know why?

Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will end without any prompting.  One day he will not only NOT want to snuggle up in bed with me, I won’t be able to bribe or pay him to do it. 

And I will look back on this time right now and miss it so badly that I will ache. 

I will remember the days of t-ball when he somehow switched teams after a base hit and, instead of running to second on the next hit, chased the ball into the outfield with the other team. 

I will miss the days when he said “LEL-LOW” for “yellow” and the way his sentences sounded before he learned “your” is the possessive form of “you.”

I will think back fondly to the days when he would look up and ask, “Mommy, you want to watch Caillou with me?”  patting the seat next to him, batting those eyelashes and looking at me with big blue eyes.  And I will regret telling him that I can’t right now because Mommy has to __________ (clean the kitchen/cook dinner/go to the grocery store)….even though part of me knew it was really because I could not handle watching another second of Caillou …for the millionth time. 

I will hate that I told him that Mommy could not turn on the music and dance with him right now because I had a headache.  Because I KNOW he will not want to dance with his mother very long. 

But as much as I know I will miss this and, even though I am getting teary-eyed as I type this right now, I know it HAS to happen. 

Because I have been faced with the idea of what it means if he doesn’t out-grow all those things. 

I know what it means if Sawyer still wants to do all those things with me when he is 14. 

It will mean that he probably has not developed normally and that he may not be able to live on his own – maybe he will never be able to.   And that is, oh, so much worse. 

But even knowing all this, I still struggle.  I still feel stressed and overwhelmed.  I still feel some days like I am barely hanging on and I am simply trying to fool everyone into thinking that I have it together – and that very thought makes me laugh out loud at myself to think I could possibly fool anyone into thinking something so stupid.  I still want that glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of the day on a Tuesday night to take the edge off.  And I still think about the last 3 xanax in my possession and wonder if tonight is the night I should take one. 

This worries me. 

Because how will I ever be able to hold it together when these boys are teenagers and have homework and girlfriends and social problems at school??  Not to even mention the hormonal crap (Jay knows this will be his area) that will hit around 12! 

In other words, if I am struggling with working and mothering and balancing it all now, during the easy part, how will I ever manage when it is hard?? 

Of course, that is borrowing trouble from the future, now isn’t it? And each day has enough troubles to fill it without reaching out to worry about problems that haven’t even happened yet (I am pretty sure that concept is Biblical, and put way more eloquently).

I suppose the only answer I need is found at 6:15a when I am surrounded by the people most precious to me. When we are in our little nest together I know that everything is perfect and I am exactly the person I need to be. 

I need to keep in mind throughout the day when I am feeling stressed and vulnerable and inadequate that this morning at 6a I was all I needed to be… and the reason that I am out here in the world working and doing all the other things I do is so I can be safe and content in that nest with them tomorrow at 6:15a. 

Please, let me keep this in the forefront of my mind.  Because when compared to my husband and my three children, there truly is nothing else that matters.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34. 

Told you it was more eloquent.

She walked into her bedroom and shut the door.  She lay down on the bed pulled the covers around her. Once comfortable, she flipped the mental switch opening her mind. Each thought rose out of her like wisps of smoke and swirled through the room.  Every fact, every memory, every idea, every worry, every guilt was acknowledged then consciously forced out of her mind and into the ether.  She could see it, but not think or experience it.  Some were beautiful shimmering and silvery tendrils.  Others were black and toxic.  No matter how much the thoughts tried to stay inside her, she forced them out.  How long it took for her mind to wipe itself clean she did not know.  But when she was done and the blackness descended over her like the covers she was curled up in, she slept.  Her mind, being cleansed of every thought, had no subjects with which to form even a dream.  Everything else swirled around the room in delicate colored strands as she escaped into the nothingness of her mind.  It was utter peace.

Roger Dimmesworth walked through the parking lot on a Wednesday night, a self-satisfied smile on his face.  He did have a beguiling smile, even though the crooked teeth and sharp incisors added a sinister touch. But Roger was good at hiding that. It was rare his students ever noticed that about him…until it was too late, anyway. 

Roger was pleased with himself this Wednesday evening.  To be honest, though, Roger was generally pleased with himself all the time.  However, this particular Wednesday evening he was more than pleased; he was downright delighted.  Roger always was when he got the opportunity to give sermons. 

He had based his sermon on Ephesians 6:11-18. Who could doubt that we were living in a world created and ruled by schemes of the devil?   He had thought things were bad enough during the decadence of the 1990s.  Surely the world had become as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah by then.  But since the ‘90s the world had gotten so much worse.  Roger figured Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing on the United States today.  And people needed to be in Church as many times as possible to keep the Armor of God pulled tight around them.  Roger figured he was just the guy whose thoughts and ideas could keep this sad little congregation of fools on the straight and narrow.

The sermon had just the right balance of scriptured reasoning and passion, he thought with satisfaction.  People always liked passion.  Especially the women.  And Roger knew a thing or two about women, although he kept the fact that he had that knowledge to himself.  There was not much point in letting others know he had it, now was there?  It was very useful to be underestimated, Roger thought. But then again, Roger always made sure he was never underestimated for long.

As he walked to the car with Millie in tow, Roger relived his well-received speech to assuage the constant irritation he felt towards Millie. It was so difficult to keep patience with Millie and her histrionic tendencies, but Roger understood that the very thing that irritated him about Millie insured Roger was the one in control – just the way he liked it. 

“Look at the world in which we live today, brethren,” he’d started out quietly from the pulpit. “There is no doubt that Satan is firmly in control of this carnal plane of existence.  We live in a society that abhors God.  One that makes sure that our children are offered every temptation available to mankind.  Our schools teach acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality, yet they refuse to tolerate prayer!  Tell me how cunning a demon Satan has become over the centuries to be able to convince people of something as backwards as that?! And these worldly fools have blinders over their eyes that they cannot see! Remember what John 12:40 tells us! ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts…’ They have been convinced by these unwitting and pathetic agents of Satan in our society and the government – yes, brethren, the reach of Satan has penetrated even into the White House – that tolerance is a virtue.  But we know it is not!!  We know what Peter taught us in 2 Peter 1:4 that we need to ‘escape from the corruption that is the world…’ And, brothers and sisters, there can be no doubt of the fact that the agents of Satan are fully in charge of this world and manipulating their unwitting subjects so they can PAVE THE ROAD TO HELL WITH THEIR SOULS!!”

Roger was particularly pleased with that last line.  He had crafted it to make sure that his sorrow for these pathetic sinners was palpable even as he told of their satisfying damnation.  Of course, that was only done to make it look like Roger had the ability to feel empathy for others.  In Roger’s mind giving the impression of having empathy for these hell-bound saps was every bit as good as actually caring for them.  It wasn’t as if anyone could tell the difference. 

And that, like most things about himself, suited Roger just fine.

[For anyone who knows and cares, I am working on the Ideas of March.  It has been harder than I expected.  I write about one idea and become discouraged, trash it and start over with a different one.  This is not producing a lot of posts, unfortunately. But here is one, even though I am disatisfied with it.]

Pressure Addict.

It is flabbergasting how many ways I have for ratcheting up the pressure on myself. 

Not content with just doing a good job by planning and taking action, I unconsciously – and cleverly – place sundry obstacles in my way.

Like a person deep sea diving, I understand that should I relieve the pressure, I will suffer my own personal version of the bends. 

While this condition is not physically painful, it is debilitating. 

Decisions cannot be made.

Tasks cannot be completed. 

I fear losing the tenuous grasp I have on the ever-frazzling rope of sanity and reality. The grasp that keeps those recurring thoughts at bay and reminds me to face forward towards the world and not yield to the temptation of exploring the vastness in the dark recesses of the mind.

I wonder how useful this coping mechanism is.  Regardless, it is powerful –most of the time I can only recognize its use in hindsight.  Which, while enlightening later, is not necessarily helpful in the moment.

A fraud throughout, I act as though this does not happen or, if it does, I do not notice it.

I wonder, as I climb into my decompression chamber and let go, whether or not there will come a day when I can operate outside this haven without the normalizing and barely tolerable level of pressure required to keep me on task and productive. 

As I analyze how I operate and manage to maintain an acceptable level of functionality, I know I am not alone.  I am sure there are many women who can only rise to the task when the odds are stacked against them and others write them off as incapable. 

It is just that some days – most, actually – I wish I was not one of them.

Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. 

Marnie has 31 ideas.

March has 31 days.

Today is the first of March.

And that is how simple the idea happened to be. 

Ok, maybe it was a bit more complicated than that. (And there was some Shakespear in there, too)

It was an idea I had requiring me to act on ideas I’ve had lately.

You see, a couple of weeks ago Jay and I were talking over a few bottles glasses of wine. The conversation meandered and wound through many subjects, but it eventually ended with Jay saying, “You know me.  You know what I like.  Write something for me.  Write something I would like to read.”

Gulp.  Cue the Law and Order “Bum – Bum” sound. 

 So over the next several days the wheels turned and I generated idea after idea.

And none of them were any good.  Well, maybe they were ok.  But they weren’t knock-his-socks-off good…Or at least I hoped I would come up with something better.  Something I could get excited about. 

But before I knew it I had 28 ideas.  This morning, once I realized it was March 1st, I decided to flesh it out a bit and make it 31… and commit to flesh out one idea for each day of the month.  I mean, how can I judge what something is going to be from the genesis of the idea? There is so much more to it than the seed – just look at every plant.

So I am going to pick one of the 31 ideas and write at least 600 words about each of them – and we will see where they lead me. 

Why is this one my first post?

Because the fact of the matter is I am a procrastinator.  I procrastinate out of fear – whether that fear is of failure or success does not matter.  I need to make a commitment to someone.  Someone that isn’t me.  Because I am not good at keeping commitments to myself.    Something that has been a bit of an issue in my life and that I am looking to correct.  But I am good at keeping them to others.

What kind of ideas have I had? 

Well, they do run the gamut from pure fiction (something I am trying to learn to write) to ideas for my kids, my home, opinion pieces (although I am trying to dial that back) and anything else that ran through my mind over the last couple of weeks. 

See, I don’t want to leave half-baked ideas in a notebook.  I want to flesh them out and find out where they take me. 

I have discovered writing is a lot like reading… you pick it up with a certain anticipation thinking it was going one way.  But just like reading a good book, writing doesn’t necessarily take you where you thought it would.  Generally speaking, it takes you far beyond – and sometimes even in a completely different direction than – where you thought you were going to go when you started. 

I wonder where this is going to take me…

If anyone wants to try their hand at any of these, please feel free.  I am always interested in seeing how an idea changes when it goes through someone else’s mind and thought patterns.  Almost every time I have seen two people write on the same topic, the individuality and point of view has been fascinating.  I would love to find out what yours is.